The Philadelphia Eagles will officially begin their quest to return to the Super Bowl on Sunday when they open their season in Foxborough against the New England Patriots.
Tom Brady is getting honored before the game, so it should be a pretty hostile environment for the Eagles, similar to their season opener in Detroit last year.

This is a reasonably difficult kickoff game for the Eagles, in my view. While Mac Jones and his collection of pass-catchers is not exactly an inspiring aerial attack, Rhamondre Stevenson is a very talented and well-rounded running back who the offense can lean on.

Ezekiel Elliott, while well past his prime, should theoretically complement their ground game well in what I assume will be a short-yardage and goal-line role. Elliott found a home in that role down the stretch for the Cowboys last season.

Defensively is where the Patriots will probably win most of their games this season, as has been the norm since Brady left. Bill Belichick is obviously a legendary defensive coach, but New England’s defensive personnel, while perhaps lacking in household names, is a deep and versatile group. Matt Judon has become one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL since joining the Patriots from Baltimore, collecting 28 sacks in two seasons with New England. Josh Uche is a talented pass-rusher in his own right, and they drafted athletic freak Keion White in the second round this year. Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani Tavai form a nice pair of linebackers, and they are extremely deep in the secondary. Kyle Dugger, Adrian Phillips, Jabrill Peppers, and old friend Jalen Mills make up a good quartet of safeties.

First-round rookie Christian Gonzalez was my favorite cornerback in the draft this year. He somehow fell to the 17th pick. Lanky is athletic, productive in college, and only 21 years old, but he has a tough NFL debut coming up against A.J. Brown. Gonzalez and the three Jones’ (Jonathan, Jack, and Marcus) are a very formidable group of corners. 

The Patriots mix it up on defense a lot with their depth at all positions, and their versatility presents many challenges to any opposing offense.

With a raucous crowd on the road in Week 1 against this unit, I think the Eagles struggle to achieve the offensive production they were accustomed to last season. Conversely, however, their defense should have little trouble stopping Jones and a frankly unimpressive group of receivers led by new Philadelphia enemy JuJu Smith-Schuster.

Bottle up Stevenson and make Mac Jones beat you with his arm, and I think Jalen Hurts will make just enough plays to outproduce them on the other side.

This will be a close game without a ton of offense, but the Eagles are the much more talented team, and I think they squeak it out. 

Prediction: Eagles win 22-19, Patriots +4

Photo: ClutchPoints

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